COR THOUGHTS 234: Rejoice Always and Pray Without Ceasing

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This coming weekend we celebrate Gaudete (“rejoice”) Sunday. In the second reading St. Paul pairs the call to “rejoice always” with the call to “pray without ceasing.” A true understanding of Christian prayer is the doorway into a true understanding of Christian joy. Pope Benedict XVI reminded us: “The Fathers of the Church say that prayer, properly understood, is nothing other than becoming a longing for God.” As Saint Augustine put it, “Desire is your prayer; and if your desire is without ceasing, your prayer will also be without ceasing.” Christian joy comes to us as we learn to let go of all of our God-substitutes (our idols) and direct our deep desire for love and happiness toward the one who alone can fulfill it: “in my God is the joy of my soul” (first reading); “My soul rejoices in my God” (resp. psalm). This is what it means to be made “perfectly holy” and blameless in “spirit, soul, and body”: to desire nothing but “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (second reading). At his coming, he will be clothed “like a bridegroom” and we will be clothed “like a bride” and we will “rejoice heartily in the Lord” (first reading).